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Health group waiting to see how Senate votes on GOP health care bill


PHOENIX — An Arizona health group is keeping a close eye on whether the Senate passes the American Health Care Act that was passed by the U.S. House last week.

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) says it’s disappointed that the house passed the bill. The group claims it could leave a lot of people uninsured.

“The original scoring from the Congressional Budget Office showed about 14 million people falling off of enrollment,” said the association’s vice president of policy development, Debbie Johnston. “That would ratchet up to 24 million after a few years, and we know that hundreds of thousands of Arizonans could lose coverage.”

Johnston said that many of those who would lose coverage could end up going to hospital emergency rooms for care for ailments that would normally land them at the doctor’s office if they had insurance. She’s worried that the plan would also slash funding for Medicaid.

Even though the AzHHA is apprehensive about the new health plan, Johnston said that the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — it is intended to replace isn’t perfect.

“Much of the middle class did not receive financial support under the Affordable Care Act,” said Johnston. “They saw the cost of their premiums skyrocket. This does need to be addressed.”

Johnston said that the AzHHA has already been speaking with Arizona’s two senators, Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake, about its concerns.

“They were very much in listening mode and were very helpful in terms of giving us their time and listening to our concerns,” said Johnston.

She said the Senators did not give any indication how they plan to vote on the plan that was passed last week.

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